The Okinawan Fist

MJS

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I came across this article talking about this method of making a fist, compared to the standard that we normally see. What are your thoughts? Do you use this method? If so, what are some of the things you've noticed?

To most it looks odd, or strange at best - a fist with one finger kept straight. Most of us in karate or other martial arts were taught to form a basic closed fist. But Gichen Funakoshi and a number of old karate masters used this method.
Some say this method of forming a fist was practiced in old Shuri, the capital city of Okinawa. Others say it came from Naha (a port city near Shuri). It also might just be an alternative, an old method of forming an advanced fist. Whatever its origin, however, this method of forming a fist presents the reader with a unique perspective, something to be considered, tested and/or practiced.
 

still learning

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Hello, Thank-you for sharing this article on the fist. Our Professor Martin T. Buell train under Professor Adriano Emperado, with his blessing form his own Kempo school.

Today our fist is the ones everyone uses.(from our Professor Buell) Close the four finger and thumb on index finger. Option is always yours (some like the thumb on top of the fist).

Is there a way to make differen fists? Yes! What is the best is the one that works for you.

Remember the human body is not flat when striking with the fists. The body and human head/faces are not solid/flat. Hiting with the proper knuckles will be always a challenge.

For those with FLAT faces...this fist will work great!

For a back fist? What is the best fist to make? I like the ones that work well, especially the ones that get there first!

Fists: sometimes it is good to have one good hand for this, always practice with both sides. Must learn to hook,curve and straight shots.
Use when needed. Avoid uneven faces, and foreheads.

Best to keep fist hidden untill impact for best results......having fun here....Aloha
 

Steel Tiger

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I read through the article and found the second fist formation a little strange, but it seems to be the older. This is not that surprising as it has a modification to the fist brought about by manipulating the index finger. Its not surprising because Karate has itsorigins in China where that kind of fist modification is common. A good example is the Phoenix Eye fist of Bak Mei, in which the index finger is pushed forward beyond the other fingers and locked in place with the thumb.

Interestingly, because I practise a Chinese art, I use a very different fist, when I use a fist at all (the palm is the weapon of choice for bagua). In the traditional Chinese fist the fingers are folded in and the thumb does not lock over the fingers but is tucked in and sits on top of the fist which is used vertically not horizontally.
 

exile

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I came across this article talking about this method of making a fist, compared to the standard that we normally see.

Mike, thank you very much for posting this important bit of analysis. Definitely something to experiment with!
 

Andrew Green

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I've seen this before, as well as many other articles all going on about the importance of some minor detail and how this other way is the "old" way.

My first thought is who cares? It's a trivial detail, and it probably was then as well. That way works, other ways work, as long as you don't break your hand it's all good.

Second is the source. Eventually all these things trace back to one or two guys, and end up as oral history. It often comes across as someone finding some little thing some old guy does that is different and making a big deal out of it. For all we know 150 years ago someone broke his finger, it didn't heal right, so he adapted. Students picked up on this and turned it into an important teaching.
When the spiritual teacher and his disciples began their evening meditation, the cat who lived in the monastery made such noise that it distracted them. So the teacher ordered that the cat be tied up during the evening practice. Years later, when the teacher died, the cat continued to be tied up during the meditation session. And when the cat eventually died, another cat was brought to the monastery and tied up. Centuries later, learned descendants of the spiritual teacher wrote scholarly treatises about the religious significance of tying up a cat for meditation practice.
 

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Back when I trained in Shuri-Ryu, we used such a fist, where the index finger was laid flat, and the thumb pushed down on it. To my knowledge, all Shuri-Ryu schools use this fist in their teachings as well.

As far as I can tell, there are no biomechanical disadvantages to this fist, and if anything, I prefer this fist and still use it to this date, despite now training in a different style.

It gives a tighter fist, and suits my fingers better than a "standard" fist. I broke both index fingers thanks to a car door, a long time ago, and since then, have never been able to curl the tips all the way that helps give a "standard" fist the tightness, but can use the Shuri fist without any problems at all.
 

Steel Tiger

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I've seen this before, as well as many other articles all going on about the importance of some minor detail and how this other way is the "old" way.

My first thought is who cares? It's a trivial detail, and it probably was then as well. That way works, other ways work, as long as you don't break your hand it's all good.

Second is the source. Eventually all these things trace back to one or two guys, and end up as oral history. It often comes across as someone finding some little thing some old guy does that is different and making a big deal out of it. For all we know 150 years ago someone broke his finger, it didn't heal right, so he adapted. Students picked up on this and turned it into an important teaching.


Its interesting that you mention the broken finger. I think its a real possibility. I tried to make that straight fingered fist and it borders on counter-intuitive. If that is a "proper" Karate fist then the early Karate guys might have been a bit slow off the mark defending themselves.
 

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As an interesting side not to Andrew Green's post - many years ago I cut the tendon of the second knuckle in my right forefinger. When surgery was performed the doctor replaced it with the tendon from the first knuckle (which he considered less important). The end result is that the first knuckle of my right forefinger won't bend...

Now, we form a fist with the thumb braced on top. But my right forefinger doesn't bend, so it looks rather like an old Okinawan-style fist with the thumb braced on top.

Some years down the road I noticed a student of mine forming his fist with the forefinger extended. I asked him why he was forming his fist in that way and he replied that he thought that's how he was supposed to do it because that's how I did it...

And there you go....
 

Shotgun Buddha

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Hmmmm. Two basic points.

1. Regardless of how you make your fist, punching a hard target area with it is bad idea.
2. Hitting a soft target area, it doesn't matter what way you make the fist so long as its solid.

So why not avoid the potential hazards of breaking your knuckles, and save punches for soft targets, and use elbows and knees on the hard ones.
 

redfang

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A local teacher of Okinawan Kenpo showed me this style of forming fist, says its what they always use. Insists that it is superior to standard fist, says its like having roll of quarters in palm and reinforces the wrist. I couldn't say, i've never had problems with standard fist, so never really practiced with it.
 
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MJS

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Recently, while reading John Bishops book on Kajukenbo, I really didn't know much about this formation of the fist. I had always used the standard fist formation. Kaju uses this type of fist and after doing some searching, I had came across this article. I do notice some difference between the two when striking. I will admit though, that it does take some getting used to. :)

Mike
 

Brandon Fisher

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I had never seen this before so I just went out into the dojo and hit the makiwara with my fist in that position. Feels the same has far as the strike to me but a little uncomfortable on the index finger holding it like that.
 

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After we got Mr. Bishop's book we started playing with this fist formation. We found that it absolutely does change things. I can clearly see a difference in my heavy bag when hitting with this vs a simple closed fist.

It causes the index finger to be a little bit "lower", and so the finger bone gets out of the way and allows the punch (ideally) to hit knuckle-only. You can measure this easily with a mirror or window. Make a normal fist, place your fist on the glass, and see what is touching the glass. now do the same with this modified fist. We find that the knuckles are emphasized a measureable amount. The dent in the heavy bag looks deeper. Ukes complain more.

I also ran this by (someone I consider to be) an Authority on anatomy in martial arts and he said, this is the best configuration to use for punching with the knuckles, however for other applications (hammer fist etc) it does not offer the best structure.

It took a few hours practice over a couple weeks to be able to make this fist reliably and comfortably on the fly without thinking about it.
 

still learning

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Hello, Also some people like keeping the thumbs on top of the fist. This works really well too.

=======================

The more natural you can make your fist? ...this might be the better way...because you can do it without thinking.

All fist should be close and hold slightly firm untill impact....than you tighten up for best results. The whole body should be relax untill impact, always turn your hips and be on the balls of your foot.

No matter the type of fist...throwing it out correctly is just an important,on tarket and relax until impact!

The more fist you can give....it nice to be generous here!...the better it may work for you. Be a good giver! Sharing is caring.....Aloha
 

Shuri Ryu Sonny

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Back when I trained in Shuri-Ryu, we used such a fist, where the index finger was laid flat, and the thumb pushed down on it. To my knowledge, all Shuri-Ryu schools use this fist in their teachings as well.

As far as I can tell, there are no biomechanical disadvantages to this fist, and if anything, I prefer this fist and still use it to this date, despite now training in a different style.

It gives a tighter fist, and suits my fingers better than a "standard" fist. I broke both index fingers thanks to a car door, a long time ago, and since then, have never been able to curl the tips all the way that helps give a "standard" fist the tightness, but can use the Shuri fist without any problems at all.

Yes in my Shuri-Ryu school this is the first thing that is taught. After reading this article I tried to make a "standard' fist, but it feels so odd
 

AMP-RYU

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Yes in my Shuri-Ryu school this is the first thing that is taught. After reading this article I tried to make a "standard' fist, but it feels so odd
Hey dude, just start a new thread these articles/threads are all years old and some of the people arent here any more that your talking to
icon11.gif
 

punisher73

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Hey dude, just start a new thread these articles/threads are all years old and some of the people arent here any more that your talking to

It's always a tough decision. Sometimes when you revive an old thread concerning info it is ok. If you are reviving an old thread that has to do with specific people in the discussion it is not always wise.

Also, some people don't want to start a new thread because the same topic is already addressed. He's a newcomer and I think the site suggests using the "search function" first.

_____

My thoughts on the fist, is that it probably works well just like any other solid fist configuration that you practice. As with everything I see people using all sorts of "proof" to support their choice.
 

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Yes in my Shuri-Ryu school this is the first thing that is taught. After reading this article I tried to make a "standard' fist, but it feels so odd

Heh. I'm an alum of your school as well. :)

The only time I'll switch to a conventional fist is when doing extended practice of Uraken (backfist) techniques against the heavy bag.
 

seasoned

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I came across this article talking about this method of making a fist, compared to the standard that we normally see. What are your thoughts? Do you use this method? If so, what are some of the things you've noticed?


Helps to support the first two knuckles, especially the index finger knuckle better the striking surface and also pronounces those knuckles for penetration.
 
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